Let’s not kid anyone, starting a business is hard work. In all reality, the only thing you can count on during the journey is that mistakes will be made, and there’s nothing wrong with that! In order to put your best foot forward, the key is to learn from those mistakes and fail forward.
The good news is that you can shorten the learning curve for your business by using our list and the existing info out there about common mistakes that small businesses make, while learning not only what to do, but also what not to do.
1. Trying to do it all
One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is thinking they can do it all by themselves. While they can do most everything, they’re probably not doing everything very well. Just like everyone else, entrepreneurs really only have a few talents they excel at. It’s your job as an entrepreneur to identify those skills and focus on them with all you’ve got. Then, surround yourself with people who thrive in the areas that are your weakest. Companies that excel are the ones that focus on their strengths and do them exceptionally, not the ones trying to master everything in the game.
2. Failing to plan
Seems simple enough, right? We’ve all heard the saying “if you fail to prepare you are preparing to fail”. Even with the old adage ringing loud in our ears, failing to make a business plan is one huge mistake business owners make time and time again. Without the proper plan in place you can struggle to make critical decisions about scaling your business, seeking funding, or even when and who to hire.
Planning doesn’t end with the business plan though–planning how you’re going to reach your audience, as well as what you’d do in a crisis situation is just as important. Understanding how to get your business seen and heard is the next crucial step in being successful. Don’t skip this important roadmap for your business’ success, just do the research and build the plan. You’ll thank us later.
3. Failing to invest in marketing
Building your brand, generating leads and getting people talking about your business is the whole point, and marketing is the way to do that. Many small business owners see marketing as an unnecessary expense. It’s important to remember that it’s an investment that yields a return. More marketing budget = more buzz around your growing business. Worth it, don’t you think? Bonus tip: make a website for your company, a recent study showed that 40% of small businesses don’t have a website, don’t be one of them.
4. Building the wrong team
Hiring the wrong team members early on can really hurt company morale, but can also be an expensive lesson to learn. Be thorough in your hiring process, references matter! Take the time to hire the right fit for the job, that means skillset and culture fit. It’s a no-brainer that the collective team works best when they all get along.
5. Waiting too long to seek financing
It’s time-consuming and tedious, we know. That’s probably why people put it off for so long, but if you wait long enough you’ll be limited with choices and end up with a disappointing option. The key here is to get creative. Traditional small business loans aren’t the only source of financing. There’s equipment financing, invoice financing, merchant cash advances, or maybe using credit cards could work for you. Moral of the story, check out all your options and do it sooner rather than later.
6. Not putting agreements in writing
Always, always, always insist on an agreement in writing. No matter how exciting it is to find that new client or partner we encourage you to take the time to iron out details. This can save you both a lot of trouble (and lawyer fees) down the road. You never know what can happen and it’s better to be prepared.
7. Trying to get rich quick
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Getting rich overnight generally takes a couple of decades of hard work. Going in with the idea that your business will be an instant success can really be discouraging if it doesn’t happen. So instead, set some realistic financial goals and most importantly put in the work it takes to make them happen.
8. Not listening to advice
There’s no denying there will be some naysayers you’ll need to ignore when getting started, but a big mistake that some business owners make is confusing advice for criticism. If someone is offering you genuine advice, what do you have to lose? Listen carefully, because they might be saving you from an issue you didn’t see coming.
9. Ignoring accounting
Not everyone’s strong suit is accounting, we understand that. So when it comes time to pass it off to an accountant, don’t turn a blind eye. You’ll want to keep tabs. It’s important that you understand where your business is financially, and ignoring accounting puts your business at risk.
10. All business all the time
Work-life balance is a thing! While you should be committed to making your business succeed, the one thing you don’t want is to succumb to burn-out. Take care of yourself, do the things that you enjoy outside of work and spend time with loved ones. Make the time to refresh and recharge, you’ll be amazed by the focus and tenacity that you can bring back to the business when you’ve taken care of you.